Home Department written question – answered on 12th February 2004.

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Photo of Mr Huw Edwards Mr Huw Edwards Labour, Monmouth

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what he expects the operational benefits to the police of the investment in the Airwave services will be; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Security and Community Safety)

Airwave is not simply a replacement for existing police radio systems. In addition to much improved coverage and clearer, more reliable signals there are additional features that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the police service

Using Airwave, all police officers and police staff will be on the same system, with seamless communications nationally.

Airwave provides higher capacity than is presently available—allowing, for example, the many users attending a major incident to talk at the same time without overloading the system. Airwave also allows for flexible talk-groups, letting officers develop new ways of working together.

All Airwave transmissions are encrypted, allowing officers to pass information without criminals being able to eavesdrop.

Airwave handsets have an emergency button to summon help—improving the safety of both police officers and the public. Airwave also allows simultaneous transmission of voice and data, so that police officers will be able to use their radios to connect to facilities such as the Police National Computer and to file reports without the need to return to their station.

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